A Derry school principal says hundreds of local children are being failed every year by an unjust system of academic selection.

Marie Lindsay, of St Mary’s College, says the unofficial post-primary school entrance tests amount to a form of social selection.

Yesterday, hundreds of 11-year-olds across the city seeking places in Catholic grammar schools sat the latest series of exams.

The Department of Education at Stormont insists the tests should not go ahead but, with no political agreement on a replacement for the 11-Plus, they look set to continue.

Catholic bishops are urging politicians to agree on a better system of transfer to post-primary schools.

Marie Linsday says the prevailing system is “difficult to justify and it is not only failing many of our young people but it is failing their parents as well.”

She added: “There is no doubt that many young people do exceptionally well in our schools and we should be proud of them and their achievements.

“However, what we tend to overlook is the number of young people who are failed by our education system.

“Derry City Council’s website shows data which reveals there were 1,649 school leavers in the Derry Council area in 2010/11. 58% of these school leavers achieved at least five GCSEs at grades A-C which included English and Maths. Therefore, 42%, or 692 pupils, did not achieve this basic level.”

Education, says Mrs. Lindsay, plays a key role in deciding a young person’s future life choices, their opportunities, lifestyle and quality of life.